Jesus Has Borne Our Griefs

// April 28th, 2019 // Sermons

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Isaiah 53 - Suffering Servant Series

There are certain verses…  You can listen online or download it and listen later…Jesus Has Borne Our Griefs…and passages of Scripture that are stronger and so much easier to use when proclaiming the Gospel message.  Most of us are very familiar with John 3:16, Rom. 3:23, 5:8, 6:23, 10:9-10 and others.  But, if I were to ask you for a verse or a chapter in the OT that you think is a strong presentation of the Gospel, many of you would have to seriously think about.  There are many, but they often require a bit more thinking.  For example Gen. 3:15 – “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”  There is some good teaching material in that verse.

But, nowhere in all the OT does the gospel of Jesus Christ shine more clearly than in Is. 53.  Some 700 years before Jesus came into the world, God opened the eyes of Isaiah the prophet, to see into the very heart of our Lord’s saving work.  At the center of this saving work is the theology of substitution.

Messiah is pierced and crushed in our place.  The righteous in the place of the unrighteous.  The loving shepherd in the place of the lost sheep. The exalted king in the place of the rebel subjects.

Just to give you a bit of a heads-up on what I’m planning to preach on for the next while – I have been working on a series of messages from the OT prophetic book, Habakkuk.  I had hoped to be ready to start that series today, but it didn’t come together as quickly as I had hoped.

In order to give me a bit more time for this, I turned to a short series the Lord had impressed on me when I was doing some of the Easter preparation – a 3-part series from Isaiah 53 – which is what we are working on this morning.  The plan – and God can change it as He wills – the plan is to do sermon 1, today; sermon 2, next Sunday; on Mother’s Day we will have Brett & Jaclyn Reierson with us; and then on May 19th to have sermon #3.  Our V.M. Staff Conference is the weekend after and so we will look at starting the Habakkuk series on June 2nd.

So, as we look at Isaiah 53 for the next several weeks, I want you to have in your mind the blessed truth of Christ’s salvation-providing death in the place of sinners.  In addition, we need to grasp that this was God’s plan and Isaiah’s prophecy is like a stamp of approval on the substitutionary death of the Messiah.

Get this:  Christ not only died for sinners so that sinners could be saved, He died for sinners to explicitly fulfill prophecy – and here’s the clincher – so that we could know with certainty that we are saved!

When you read Isaiah’s prophetic story of how God provided for your salvation – given in such detail 700 years before it happened – this is not merely revelation, this is God’s validation on His plan and His choosing you to be a recipient of this great salvation.

It is my hope that as your understanding gets enlightened, that it won’t just make your head swell to think that Christ was willing to be your substitute and thereby remove your condemnation.  I would hope that your confidence in Christ would be strengthened/built-up by the fact that this God, who caused Isaiah to write it down, actually knew you and thought about you, not just 700 years ahead, but 2700 years before you were born.

To help us understand chapter 53 better, I went back to 52:13 – notice the first 3 words – “Behold, my servant…”  Who Is This Servant?

When you read through the book of Isaiah, you find the phrase “servant of the Lord” several times.  Sometimes the servant of the Lord is a reference to the people of Israel, like Is. 41:8 – “But you Israel, my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen . . .”   And, sometimes the servant of the Lord is the prophet Isaiah himself – Is. 49:5 – “And now says the Lord, who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring back Jacob to him…”  The prophet Isaiah is serving the people.

But in Isaiah 52 & 53 the servant can’t be the prophet or the people because the servant is pictured as substituting himself for both the prophet and the people.  Our title comes from the key verse for this passage – v. 4: “Surely he [that is, the Servant] has born our griefs and carried our sorrows.”

And, v. 5: “But He was pierced for our transgression, he was crushed for our iniquities.”  “Our” means “me, you, Isaiah and everyone else”.  What Isaiah is saying is that this Servant was crushed and pierced for all the people of Israel and others who will believe on this servant of the Lord.”  The servant, in this passage, is not the people nor Isaiah because He is the substitute for Isaiah and for the people.  This Servant has become their servant.

Who then was this servant of the Lord? 

The NT in showing the fulfillment of this prophecy clearly states that this servant of the Lord was Jesus the Messiah.  Peter quotes Isaiah 53:5 – “By his stripes we are healed” – 1 Peter 2:24 and applies it to Jesus.

In 1 Peter 1:11, we read that the prophets themselves wondered when and how the sufferings of Jesus and His subsequent glory, would take place.  God gave them the prophetic vision to see these things, but they wondered when and how it would come about.

In Acts 8, we read about the Ethiopian eunuch who was reading Isaiah 53 while riding in his chariot – one of the first instances of distracted driving – he was reading Isaiah 53 but couldn’t understand what he was reading, and so God sent Philip to join him in his chariot.  The eunuch had a similar question to 1 Peter 1:11, he asked, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?”  And then, v. 35 reads, So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus.”

The only one, in all the history of Israel, who comes anywhere close to fulfilling this prophecy is Jesus.  He Himself said, in Mark 10:45, “The Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve [that is, to be the suffering servant] and to give his life a ransom [a substitute!] for many.”

It is my hope to open this prophecy this morning so that we might enjoy how it reveals Christ; so that we might strengthened by the truth of this prophecy; and, that if there is anyone here who has not yet been drawn to believe in the Lord Jesus and His salvation, that this would be the day.

I want you to track with me, the 5 stages of what Isaiah has seen.  He begins with…

  1. A Rhetorical Who

Is. 53:1 reads, “Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”  The answer to those rhetorical questions sadly is:  virtually none!

So, a follow-up question would be, “Why not?  Why did Isaiah then, and why do we today, find such strong rebellion and unbelief when the message of salvation is preached?

The answer, in part, is given in v. 6:  “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.”  This is the essence of rebellion and unbelief — people making the choice to go their own way.

Just consider the weight and the ungrateful rebellion of this whole scenario.  God created all people for his glory!

But, in reality, how many of us are truly diligent to keep this before our eyes and regularly ask ourselves:  How can I keep myself from going astray?  How can I live my life God’s way instead of turning to my own way?  How can avoid a life of pride and presumption that comes from going my own way when God made me for His way and for His honor?

In fact the easiest way not to feel like a rebel against the King is not to think about the King (or the Shepherd).  If you can manage to put thoughts of Him out of your mind, then nothing in the world seems more natural than to do your own thing and go your own way!  It doesn’t even feel like rebellion; it feels like living with responsibility!

This is the condition that Isaiah starts with.  This is what makes substitution necessary.  Our natural bent, as it were, is to be rebel subjects of the King of kings and Lord of lords.  We don’t like anyone telling us what to do.  And so, the easiest way to keep God’s will from conflicting with our own is to just not think about Him.  “All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way.”  Like a 2-year-old we throw our tantrums, “Give me my own way!  Nobody is going to tell me how to live my life!”  The rhetorical who, leads to…

  1. The Rejected Who

In v. 3 we see Isaiah’s next glimpse is of the Rejected Servant.  V. 3 in NLT reads:  He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.”

When God sent his Servant to save the rebel subjects of v. 1, we despised Him.  Why?  Look at v. 2 – I like how the Message reads:  The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look.”

The Savior’s whole demeanor – His style, His take on life, money, possessions, lust, prayer, worship, pride, humility, fear, anger and faith—none of it supported our rebellion.  Jesus couldn’t come alongside of us and give us a pat on the back.

He was so lowly and unimpressive that our constant driving for power and reputation feels dirty and wrong.  His ability to be happy while living in poverty makes our desire for more and more feel foolish.  His willingness to suffer for others makes our craving for comfort and perfect health seem incredibly selfish.

And so, to protect ourselves we did what comes naturally, we despised Him.  We so desperately wanted Jesus to endorse our rejection of things that are right and good and God…that we would have preferred that it was God the Father who struck His Son, not man.

Jesus was an offense to us…a rejected Servant.  #3….

  1. The Ransoming What

When those He came to save didn’t treat Him as their Savior, Jesus wasn’t caught off guard.  He knew that would happen.  That’s why Scripture tells us that He did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.

So, the next thing we see through Isaiah’s eyes is a glimpse of the rejected Servant as He becomes the Ransoming Substitute.

The first part of v. 4:  Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…”  And then, v. 5 – But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.”  And the last part of v. 6:  Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.”

This is the heart of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ — substitution.  This is the great message of good news that God has for all His rebel subjects who are willing to lay down their rebellion.

Our Lord, instead of being defeated by our rebellion and ultimate rejection….He, bears our griefs.  He doesn’t increase our sorrows nor act in vengeance against our sin; no, He allows Himself to be pierced in our place.  Instead of crushing us for all the sins we have committed against Him, He allows our sins to crush Him, as our substitute.  And, He takes on Himself, all the consequences that we should have faced because of our rebellion…why?  So that we could have peace and know His healing touch in our lives.

Just like you don’t need to understand how electricity works before you can benefit from the privilege of flicking a switch and enjoying the way a room is lit, in the same way, you don’t have to understand all the details of how substitution works in order to be healed and forgiven from your sin-sickness.  God tells us what we need to know.  The Rejected Servant is the Ransoming Substitute for Rebel subjects.  That is the gospel!  #4…

  1. The Restored What

In order for the gospel to save us we need to accept it and grasp it for ourselves.

But rebel subjects, on their own, don’t want to trust in someone else to save them.  So, Isaiah says that something will happen—and this is that 4th stage:  Sight will be restored to rebel subjects!

Listen to ch. 52:15 – “Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not been told; they will understand what they had not heard about.”

God will not let the work of his Suffering Servant be done in vain.  God will make it possible for the kings of the earth to see and understand.  Their eyes will be opened.  Their sight will be restored.

Paul quoted this verse in Rom. 15:20-21 – he wrote, “…I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named… …but as it is written, ‘Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.’”

In other words, the gospel of Jesus Christ is good news because it clearly identifies God’s rejected Servant dying as a ransoming Substitute for rebel subjects, and because God guarantees that He will open the eyes of kings to see and believe.  He will restore sight.

And, Jesus will succeed – God has sent the servant and God will make sure that people see the servant.  He will restore sight so that rebel subjects can see the servant no longer as rejected but as the glorious ransoming substitute that He really is.

When you and I become overwhelmed by the work of Christ on our behalf, we need to praise and thank our God….because we could never see and understand that without Him!  Then, #5…

  1. The Reverent Finale

In 52:15, when God sprinkles the nations with the blood of his Servant and grants the kings of the earth to see what they had not been told and to understand what they had not heard, the result will be reverent silence – it says, “The kings will shut their mouth on account of him.”

Why? Look at v. 13 – “…my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted.”

Kings will be silent because the suffering servant is the true sovereign of the universe.  He is high, lifted up and greatly exalted!  This is what God grants them the eyes to see—the majesty of Jesus.  The despised and rejected servant is the Lord of glory – the King of glory!  And, as a result, there will be a reverent silence before Him.

Phil. 2:6-11 says, Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.  Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.  

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Do you know Him?  Is He more to you than just an important historical figure?

Have your bowed your knee, surrendered your will and invited Him to be Lord of your life?

Let’s pray…

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